The realistic expectations for the Steelers season took a huge hit when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the season with an elbow injury.
So at this point in the season, there’s no reason not to play freely and hope for the best.
Thus quacketh the duck.
New starter Devlin “Duck” Hodges admits that it’s easier for the man who has nothing to risk it all, so the undrafted rookie is embracing his opportunity to start against the Browns this week.
“I don’t have anything to lose,” Hodges said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “I was undrafted. . . . I’ve always been this kind of calm, cool and collected. I think a lot of that comes from getting prepared and being prepared, and when you’ve got some guys around me that are as good as they are that can block up front and make the catches and run the ball, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Hodges is replacing former third-round pick Mason Rudolph, who lost some of the luster he might have once had with a recent rash of turnovers. Four picks in the first Browns game were followed by an end zone interception last week, triggering the switch. Hodges came in and led them back to a win over the Bengals, and taking care of the ball was the low bar that he cleared.
“I thought the quarterback position by virtue, by nature of the job, it’s an opportunity to provide that spark,” coach Mike Tomlin said of the switch. “And he made a play there early on, I thought was significant and energized not only our offensive unit, but our team and our sideline. It was enough for us to get out of that stadium. We’ll see what this week holds.”
The general malaise of the AFC means the Steelers still have plenty to play for, as their 6-5 record has them in position for a wild card spot if Hodges continues to play fearlessly and well.